Danny sat in the back of the police car her eyes closed as she kept her shields up as she tried to clear her mind and prepare for what was to come. Joe slowed the police car as he turned onto a residential street lined with houses on one side and a dense forest on the left. The neighborhood was on the outskirts of town in a quiet area that had once been very upscale but due to the shift in economy had slowly become less affluent.
Danny opened her eyes as the car stopped before a small white ranch style house at the end of the street, with flowers in the front yard and garden gnomes by the front door. Three police cars, the crime unit van, two ambulances and the coroner’s van were all parked on what had once been a slightly over grown front lawn, now it was the scene of a multiple homicide. Yellow police tape was being wrapped around tall wooden sticks cordoning off the front of the house and the yard, while several uniformed officers were attempting to hold back curious onlookers and what appeared to be members of the press.
Matt jumped out of the car as soon as Joe put it in park and opened Danny’s door as a television news van pulled onto the street behind them and came to a quick stop. The scene resembled a circus more than a crime scene and with so many people about and so many minds it would make Danny’s job all the harder.
Matt opened the door letting her out of the back of the car and then stepped back giving her room as Joe hurried about the car to wave several cops over while he shouted orders for others to move the crowd further back. Lt. Chambers stepped out of the open front door and hurried over to her, from how pale his normally tan face was Danny knew what awaited her inside was going to be bad.
“Dr. Troy thank you for coming right away.” Lt. Chambers said coming up to her. “What do you need me to do?”
“Move everyone back as far as you can and clear everyone out of the house.” Matt said stepping forward to shake Lt. Chambers hand.
“Once we are suited up you can join us, bring your video camera, and don’t ask any questions till I’m done.” Danny replied. Everyone in the department with the exception of Joe and Matt thought she was just a gifted profiler with her own way of handling a crime scene, only Matt and Joe knew she was a medium. They had decided to keep that fact a secret as they didn’t think she’d be taken seriously if anyone knew she saw and spoke to the dead.
“Whatever you say Doc.” Lt. Chamber said giving her a nod before heading over to the patrolmen keeping back the on lookers.
Danny walked over to the crime unit van nodding to detective Brown and detective Simmons where they sat on the side of the van.
“Hey Doc good to see you Lt. Chambers said he was bringing you in.” Detective Brown said giving her a nod as he stood and held a hazmat suit out to her as detective Simmons held suits out to Joe and Matt.
“We took pictures and prints but cleared out when the lieutenant said he was calling for you.” Detective Simmons added.
“Thanks, I’ll try and be quick.” Danny said as she shook out the hazmat suit and stepped into it.
“Take your time we can use the help. It’s bad in there doc real bad.” Detective Brown shook his head as he handed Danny show covers and a hair net.
“Thanks for the warning.” Danny zipped up the suit then pulled on the shoe covers and the hair net before pulling on a pair of latex gloves. As she stood she saw a shimmer in the shadows of the neighbor’s house several hundred feet away and frowned, something wasn’t right she usually only saw shimmers when there was a spirit nearby, it was day time, why would there be a spirit?
Danny looked around taking everything in, on her right the street ended in a cul de sac before a thick pine forest that continued behind the victim’s house. Danny scanned the tree line as the hairs on the back of her neck rose and a shiver went through her, there was something evil in the woods, something evil had been here and left its mark. Even though the sun was high above she felt a shiver of fear and unease, and turned her gaze back to the neighbor’s house as something called to her.
“Something wrong Danny?” Matt asked.
“Yes, no, something about the neighbor’s house isn’t right.” Danny replied.
Matt turned to examine the white house with a well-manicured lawn and two cars in the drive way. “ You know I think your right.”
“What’s up?” Joe demanded as he zipped up his suit.
“Two cars in the drive, road full of cops and press and no one is even looking out the window, don’t you think that’s odd?” Matt asked.
“Damn you’re right I’ll send one of the boys over.” Detective Brown said setting down the tablet he’d been working on in the back of the van before turning to hurry over to one of the patrolmen on crowd duty.
Danny turned back to see Lt. Chambers jogging up to them. “Sorry to keep you waiting let me get suited up and I’m ready.”
“That’s fine I need a minute to prepare myself.” Danny replied she gave Chambers a nod then headed towards the open door of the house as she prepared herself for what was to come.
Danny stopped before the open door and closed her eyes as she took a deep breath and then let down her mental shields, she heard Matt and Joe’s familiar footfalls in the back ground and then had to grab the door frame as terror and pain washed over her slamming into her with the force of a six foot wave. She felt a steadying hand on her back as she heard Matt whisper it was okay.
Danny nodded and took another deep breath opened her eyes and looked into the room and experienced the odd disconnect she was used to when the spirit world merged with what others called reality. Standing in the corner of the room were the spirits of three dead young women, who from their appearances had died horribly and in terror. Danny stepped into a large living room seeing the body on the floor for the first time. It belonged to one of the spirits standing in the corner, who had just realized she could see them as they could see her.
Danny stepped closer to the body and was glad she hadn’t eaten lunch from what she saw. The young woman had obviously put up a huge fight before her death from the bruises covering her body, but it had done no good for her murderer had strangled her then stripped her naked, splayed her out in the middle of the floor and cut out her heart.
Danny fought back her nausea and turned to examine the scene trying to see it as both a scientist and a medium at the same time. Danny in addition to her degrees in anthropology and psychology had a degree in criminology and forensics, something that added credence to her being a profiler.
Painted around the dead woman in what appeared to be her own blood was a four pointed star within a circle, with symbols running around the outer edge. Danny walked slowly around the circle careful not to touch or disturb it in anyway.
“The symbols are Akkadian and Sumerian cuneiform, it took me a moment to recognize them.” Danny walked slowly around the circle again. “The woman is an offering to the god Nergal, he was thought to oversee the underworld and cause destruction and devastation.” Danny looked up to see Lt. Chambers was recording her with a small hand held video camera.
“It’s not satanic then?” Chambers demanded.
“No, defiantly not.” Danny replied. She turned to walk from the living room stopping a large eat in kitchen where she paused before a knife rack. Images of what had happened flashed through her mind residual recordings of the horror from the night before.
Danny pointed to the empty knife block. “ The killers used the knives from here.” Danny closed her eyes as scenes of horror filled her mind, she braced herself against the counter before her seeing the dead woman fighting wildly against two men being strangled from behind with a thick rope before being dragged senseless into the living room. Danny turned walking from the kitchen and down a short corridor to what was obviously a bedroom where another naked and butchered girl lay also with in a circle and star of blood.
“Is it the same as the other?” Matt asked as Danny examined the scene, trying to block out everything but the dead girl.
Danny knelt on the floor outside the circle as pain and terror filled her threatening to make her double over, she pushed it down as the spirit of the dead girl came into the room and images of how she’d died flashed through Danny’s mind.
“Yes, yes it’s the same a prayer and an offering.” Danny forced herself to her feet and walked from the room barley noticing the light pink walls and teddy bears that covered the bed. Danny let the dead girl lead her past a white and green tiled bath room to a back bedroom where another dead girl lay, also in a circle of blood her heart removed.
As before images of what had happened filled Danny’s mind forcing her to brace herself against the door jam. Danny turned from the room and walked to the back of the house where the back door was wide open, the lock obviously forced open from the outside.
Danny placed her left hand against the wall letting images fill her as she fought against the terror and the pain. “It was three, no four men, they came through the back door before midnight.” Danny pointed to the damaged door. “They didn’t use tools to open the door just their own strength.”
Danny turned to look in the room beside her at the young twenty something girl lying naked on her back, her pale hair spread across the light pink carpet surrounded by her own blood.
“She was the first to die, she had been asleep and didn’t know what was happening when she was dragged from her bed and strangled till she lost consciousness.” Danny turned from the room as images flashed in her mind. “The sound brought her room mates, the other men subdued them while she was killed first.”
“Go on Danny what happened next.” Matt demanded.
Danny paused frowning as she saw three girls fighting for their lives, she turned to open the door across the hall revealing another bed room, the furniture was knocked on the floor, the bed a mess. “ There is a fourth girl, she was strangled and left on the bed by her attackers while they killed the others.” Danny moved into the room pointing to the open window showing the screen had been kicked out.
“Fourth girl, you mean someone might be alive?” Joe demanded.
“Yes call the paramedics.” Danny felt the icy touch of the first dead girl on her hand, the spirit was trying to pull her outside. Danny let the spirit lead her out the back door and across a small patio ringed by flower pots and into the forest beyond. Danny opened her mind and felt pain from the forest and followed it increasing her pace hearing Matt and Joe behind her, hearing Chambers call for the paramedics.
Danny was now running on instinct, branches and brambles tearing through her suit to grab at her clothes and her hair.
“Danny slow up.” Matt called behind her as the branches thickened to form a tunnel like structure, forcing Danny to first bend low and then crawl. She heard the men cursing behind her as they fought the thick branches and called her back but she paid them no heed as both the pain and the spirit drew her forward. The branches opened suddenly before her into a small hidden bower, formed by entwined branches of rhododendrons and ancient oaks, so thick the branches dimmed the bright sunlight. Lying in a torn white t shirt was a girl with light pink hair, her pale skin covered with bruises and abrasions.
“I’ve found her.” Danny shouted as she knelt beside the girl, knowing she was alive before even touching her. “She’s alive.” Danny tore off the hazmat suit then dragged off her hoody to cover the girl before pressing her fingers to her throat wincing at the deep bruises there.
“Damn it Danny, were trying to get to you but the fucking branches are too thick.” Joe shouted.
Danny could hear the others bashing at the branches and brambles, cursing in anger and pain. Danny turned back and crawled through the tunnel of branches from where she’d come seeing Matt, Joe and two paramedics carrying a stretcher. Danny scrambled to her feet letting Matt help her up.
“ She’s in shock, her pulse is thready by the time you get through it will be too late.” Danny said her breath coming in ragged gasps. “ Tie a rope to the stretcher, I’ll drag it through to the girl and then roll her onto it. Once she is secured I’ll bring you back out the rope and you can pull her out.”
“I don’t like it but fine.” Matt said and turned to the paramedics as two firemen carrying axes and a rope ran up, all having to hunch over to stand beneath the thick branches.
Matt turned to the fireman carrying the rope. “Tie the rope to the front of the stretcher and give her the other end she’s going to pull it through the branches to the girl inside.” Matt ordered and then men quickly complied.
Dany stepped back giving the men room, branches digging into her back and grabbing at her hair. Beside her the spirit was continuing to franticly pull at her hand obviously wanting her to help her friend. The fireman quickly finished tying the knot to the front of the stretcher and dropped it on the leave and branch covered ground before handing the free end to Danny.
“I’ll bring the rope back out once she is on the stretcher.” Danny looped the rope about her right arm several times before grabbing it tightly in her right hand and dropping to her hands and knees crawled quickly back through the living tunnel. Once she was through she turned and began pulling on the rope, after a moment she felt the drag and resistance of the stretcher and had to brace her feet against the dirt and entwined branches to use all her muscles to drag the stretcher through the living tunnel. The rope dug into Danny’s hands rubbing her hands raw and her muscles screamed in pain but she didn’t stop as she feverishly pulled on the stretcher, all the while the spirit of the dead girl beside her.
The stretcher after what seemed like an eternity popped free and Danny dragged it across the clearing to lie next to the girl. Danny crawled next to the girl and touched her only then noticing her gloves and hands had been shredded by the rope.
“Hold on just a little longer and we shall have you out of here, I know you are a fighter so just fight a little longer.” Danny crawled about the girl and began to drag her limp form onto the stretcher. The girl was several inches taller than Danny’s small five foot plus size and several pounds heavier but Danny just gritted her teeth and alternately pushed and pulled till the girl was on the stretcher. Not even stopping to catch her breath Danny quickly fastened the straps about the girl and then again covered her with her hoody so the branches wouldn’t scratch her face.
Now she had to get the stretcher at the mouth of the living tunnel, her muscles screaming in fatigue Danny pushed and pulled the stretcher into place, then grabbed the rope and crawled back through the living tunnel hearing Matt and Joe calling for her as she neared the end.
Danny crawled the last few feet and saw a hand before her she grabbed it and let Matt pull her to her feet wincing as he inadvertently squeezed several scrapes. Danny handed the rope to the waiting fire men then staggered back out of the way letting them work in the crowded over grown space.
“Damn Danny your hands and arms.” Matt said drawing her attention away from the tunnel where the fire fighters, Joe and Chambers were feverishly pulling on the rope. “Come with me your bleeding all over and we are only in the way.”
Danny looked down to see her hands and arms were covered with deep bleeding scratches and abrasions. She wanted to stay and wait for the girl but she knew Matt was right they were only in the way in the tight space.
Danny followed Matt out of the over grown forest and into the bright sunlight seeing several cops, more fire fighters and detective Brown.
“Jeeze Doc Troy your something else.” Detective Brown said walking up to her. “I heard what you did, that the girl is alive, that she’d of died if not for you. That was very brave of you running off like that.”
Danny shook her head. “There was nothing brave about it I was simply small enough to get to her easily.”
“Whatever you say, any way your hunch about the other house was right, two uniforms went over and knocked, when no one answered they peered through the windows and saw a body on the floor. They busted the door in and found two dead women upstairs and a man and a kid beat up and bound and gagged in the basement.” Detective Brown said.
“Oh god.” Danny swallowed the bitter taste in her mouth wishing for once her hunch had been wrong.
“Once you and Lt. Chambers are ready you can go through the place. Simmons is in there now taking pictures, I have to go dust for prints.” Detective Brown gave her a nod and hurried away as Matt lead Danny around the side of the house as the paramedics and Joe hurried out of the forest carrying the woman at a jog towards a waiting ambulance.
They watched the woman loaded into the ambulance as several officers came out of the neighbor’s house carrying a man and then a young boy on stretchers. They were also loaded onto the ambulance while the officers formed a human wall to push the press and onlookers back. The ambulance doors were slammed shut and the ambulance roared off, and Joe turned to jog towards them as Matt lead her to their squad car.
“We need to get those cuts cleaned up.” Matt said popping the trunk then reaching inside for a first aid kit as Joe joined them panting and out of breath.
“The paramedics say she is going to make it, that if she’d been out there too much longer she would of died. You saved her life Danny, I don’t know how you do it.” Joe shook his head as Matt opened a bottle of disinfectant then grabbed Danny’s right wrist holding her hand out over the ground.
“This is going to hurt.” Matt said a heartbeat before he poured disinfectant over the bleeding scrapes and cuts on Danny’s hands.
Danny hissed in pain and gritted her teeth against the pain as Joe reached into the trunk and pulled out a sealed cellophane bag and ripping it open pulled out a clean white t-shirt with police printed on the bag. “Was it one of your spooks Danny?” Joe demanded handing Matt a wad of gauze.
“Yes, it was, it was one of her roommates.” Danny replied and heard Matt grunt. Matt didn’t like when she spoke about seeing the dead, he recognized her ability but didn’t like to talk about it.
“Joe watch it.” Matt snapped as he dropped the dirty gauze into the trunk and began to bandage Danny’s hands.
“Sorry I forgot.” Joe mumbled watching Matt bandage Danny’s scratched up hands and wrists. Once Matt was done Joe handed Danny the clean shirt and she pulled it over her torn and dirty shirt. Danny sighed mentally in dismay at the ruin of her white blouse, it was one of her best work blouses and now it had a large tear along the bottom and was stained with dirt and blood.
“It’s all right I need to finish my walk and then I need some time alone in the house to help the spirits cross over, once that is done we can do the neighbor’s house.” Danny stated before pulling the clean shirt over her torn blouse.
“You got it, I’ll let the Lt. Chambers know you plan to finish your walk and then head over to the neighbor’s.” Joe gave Danny a nod and then hurried away.
“You okay?” Matt demanded gently touching Danny’s face where there were two deep scratches from a briar bush.
“Just a few scratches.” Danny replied taking a deep calming voice while she caught Matt’s hand to pull away from her face.
“That’s not what I meant, I know you need to do this but this one is bad Danny really bad, no one would blame you if you didn’t go back in.” Matt said.
“Thanks but I have too. There is something you need to know the killers there was something weird about them.” Danny said softly looking around to be sure none of the cops nearby could over hear her.
“You mean other than the fact they killed five women and left them in the middle of symbols drawn in blood.” Matt said sarcastically.
“Yes, they were very pale, I mean really pale, almost pure white with long white hair and red eyes.” Danny saw Matt stare at her as if she was crazy.
“Okay, they should be easy to find then.” Matt ran his fingers through his hair. “Keep this between us for now, once the victims are able to talk I’ll be sure Joe and I are assigned the case and then say that the victims told us they were attacked by people in white face paint with white hair. With luck we can spin up a crazed cult theory.”
Danny knew that what she’d seen wasn’t men in face paint or wigs, that she’d seen true evil, that she’d felt true evil for the third time in her life. That the killers were not human, but that no one would believe her.
“Okay whatever you say.” Danny replied. “ Give me a minute and then meet me at the door of the house.”
Matt nodded and closed the trunk before turning and walking away leaving Danny to compose herself.
Danny turned to look at the house and saw two faces looking back at her from the open door, faces no one else could see. Danny took another moment to compose herself then walked towards the crime van to grab another hazmat suit as the coroner brought the first sheet covered body out of the house. Danny made a silent promise that she would see the killers were found and punished no matter what it took or how long. She’d been given a second chance at life and her abilities to see that the innocent had a voice and evil was punished no matter how long it took.
Liam scanned the bid he’d been working on one last time checking for any errors in math before he sent it off to the potential client L and S industries. If the bid was accepted Liam and Keith’s building company stood to make over ten million dollars in profit. After thousands of years Liam and Keith had amassed a tidy fortune, but this added wealth would allow them to help the Enki warriors in their quest to find the answer to why they could only have fulfilling sexual relations but children with only a select few women.
There was a quick knock and his office door opened and Franky stepped in without waiting to be summoned. Franky was one of the few people who had constant access to Liam, she was not only his driver and self-imposed body guard she was his confidant and friend.
“ I know you are busy but you need to see this boss.” Franky walked to the coffee table in the center of Liam’s huge office and grabbing the television remote hit the switch to raise it from its hidden cabinet.
The huge flat screen flashed to life as it clicked into place and Liam saw that Franky had put on a news broad cast. A commentator was standing before yellow caution tape, and in the back ground were several police cars and two coroner’s vans.
“We continue with breaking news of the multiple homicides in the quiet neighborhood of Crystal woods, were three women in one house and two in another were brutally murdered.” The male commentator said as the camera panned between two white houses. “ A source said that special police investigator Dr. Danielle Troy was responsible for saving the life of three people, though the exact details how have yet to be released.”
The camera pulled back and showed a small figure in a white hazmat suit step out of a house and onto the lawn followed by several other obviously male figures. The small figure pulled off its hood and long red hair spilled free and Liam knew it was Danny. Danny looked up and saw the camera trained on her and ducked behind a large black police van disappearing from view.
“It’s on every channel, some have more details than others but they are all saying the doc saved three people, though they aren’t saying how.” Franky hit a button and the television brought up pip with it displaying a different news channel.
Liam stepped around his huge L- shaped desk to step up to Franky who handed him the remote. “Aren’t you seeing her tonight?”
“Yes she was to call you and you were to pick her up and then bring her here.” Liam replied watching the giant screen intently.
“That’s what I thought. You know boss I liked the lady before, but now wow she is something else. Too bad she is straight, she’s an amazing lady.” Franky said.
“Yes, yes she is.” Liam pulled out his phone and flipping to the speed dial screen hit Danny’s number. As expected the phone rang a few times and then went to voice mail.
“Hi Danny this is Liam, I just saw you on the news. Look I know you probably won’t be able to make it later but if you want to I still want to see you tonight.” Liam was about to hang up when his phone chirped and indicated it was Danny calling him back.
“Hi Liam, just got your message I can’t talk now but I’d still like to see you tonight though I might be late.” Danny said sounding very tired.
“That’s fine the food and I will be waiting for you.” Liam replied.
“That sounds wonderful and thanks Liam I really needed to hear a friendly voice, I have to go, I’ll call when I know when I’ll be done.” The phone went dead and Liam flipped his phone shut and dropped it into his pocket.
“So you and the lady still on I’m guessing?” Franky asked.
“Yes, she sounds exhausted though.” Liam switched channels hoping to catch a glimpse of Danny and finally spotted her talking to two people also in hazmat suits before following them into another house.
“After you place the order for dinner I’ll pick it up and then wait in the car for the lady’s call.” Franky said giving Liam a nod before heading towards the door.
“Thanks Franky.” Liam called after her as he returned his attention to the television. He watched for several minutes to see if Danny came out of the house but finally gave up in frustration and flipped off the television. As fascinating as the news was he had to finish the bid and get it sent off so he could give Danny his full attention tonight.
Liam stepped around his huge desk and dropped to his large leather chair and tried to force himself to concentrate on the figure before him but thoughts of Danny kept distracting him. Danny was so small and quiet almost gentle seeming at times, it bothered him that she dealt with death and horror. But he was still getting to know her, in a few days Artie would present his report to Liam and then he would know all Danny’s secrets for good or bad. Liam shook his head, not that he thought Artie would find out anything bad about Danny, he after thousands of years was a pretty good judge of character and there was nothing about Danny that made him think she was anything other than a quiet hard working lady. But she was keeping something from him, he shook his head he was being foolish they had only known each other a short time it was unreasonable to expect all her secrets so soon, but he meant to have them soon one way or another and then. Liam smiled, once he had all of Danny’s secrets he would make her his, whether she was his mate or not he’d been alone too long and Danny was just the kind of woman he needed, smart, funny and curvy as hell, yes unless she was a murder, which he doubted he would make her his.